Chinese straight sword – Jian
In China, the Jian (taiji sword) is highly respected and is considered to be the “king of the short weapons”. The Jian is a narrow-bladed, double-edged straight sword, which was used by soldiers as a defensive battle weapon; but it was also carried by scholars and magistrates too.
The straight sword’s length is divided into 3 areas. The third closest to the hilt is thick and unsharpened so used for blocking type moves. The mid-third section is thinner and sharper and used for sticking, cutting, sliding and guiding away the opponent’s blade, whilst the top third is the sharpest and used only for attack.
Given the narrowness of the blade there are only a few effective techniques when using the sword: sliding, cutting, slashing, stabbing, deflecting, or chopping; all done with great fluidity and at speed.
The straight sword was also a favourite weapon of many Chinese Emperors and so came to symbolise power and authority often representing the morality, self-respect and notable undertakings of the individual. It was often used as the means to cut through veils of illusion, ego and attachment and is thus associated with spiritual cultivation alongside martial efficacy. In this regard the most important aspect of the sword art is the virtues that must be instilled in the practitioner in order to prevail. Understanding, humility, patience and perseverance must be deeply entrenched in the practitioner, both to strengthen spiritual cultivation and fill their life with equanimity. Straight sword masters, whether male or female, were commonly revered in Chinese history not only as highly skilled martial heroes, but also as enlightened people.
Jian sword training is enjoyable yet challenging; enabling the practitioner to strengthen and relax their body, calm and focus the mind, develop their balance and sensitivity and extend their qi to the sword tip, to use the sword as if part of their body naturally and comfortably, to develop spatial awareness as well as being fun to learn.